While it’s more of a household name than the city to which it belongs, Valencia is just a municipality located within the boundaries of Santa Clarita.
Together they are located in Los Angeles County, about 30 minutes northwest of downtown, depending on traffic.
While many visitors to Valencia opt for day trips to Southern California’s premier show-business attraction, for those who don’t want to struggle with notorious traffic, there are plenty of things to do within a few miles. .
Highlights of the area include world-class theme parks, impressive natural areas and a variety of shopping, history and outdoor recreation options.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Valencia, CA:
1. Six Flags Magic Mountain
Located on Magic Mountain Boulevard just minutes from Valencia, Six Flags Magic Mountain is the most famous attraction in the area. It attracts year-round visitors from all over the state.
While it’s primarily an amusement park, it also has plenty of dining and live entertainment options, a variety of rides and activities for kids and adults of all ages, and many shopping options.
In short, this is where many families choose to spend their entire day, sometimes even two or three days.
For those who don’t want to waste valuable vacation time driving, there are plenty of affordable and convenient accommodations nearby.
2. Vista Valencia Golf Course
Southern California typically enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine per year.
This makes it the perfect destination for golfers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Vista Valencia Golf Course is one of the premier golf attractions in the Santa Clarita Valley. It has two different courses and is less than a kilometer from the center of Valencia.
The first is an 18-hole executive-style course that can usually be completed in less than 2 ½ hours.
The second is a short 9-hole par 3 popular with retirees, those who play with children, and travelers with limited vacation time.
Both offer stunning natural surroundings and t-shirts for every skill level.
3. Urban Cafe
Valencia’s Urbane Café, just west of the Golden State Highway, is a popular stop for tourists and locals alike.
Urbane is known for its cozy and modern decor, friendly staff, and impressive menu, which includes many healthy and homemade foods, from salads and sandwiches to soups and freshly baked breads.
They also offer strictly vegetarian options for those with dietary restrictions, as well as protein-packed entrees and salads that are popular choices for the healthy and muscular crowd.
Urbane can get busy during peak hours, so if you want to get in and out quickly, consider dining before or after the typical lunch and dinner crowds.
4. St. Francis Dam
Most visitors will be surprised to discover a unique historical attraction, such as a concrete dam in an area known for its arid climate and infrequent rainfall.
The St. Francis Dam was originally built to supply water to Southern California in the early 1920s, but just a few years after it was built, it burst and several towns downstream were razed to the ground.
While the original dam is largely gone, its scenic setting filled with natural beauty and unique desert wildlife makes it an interesting place to explore.
The dam is about 15 kilometers north of Valencia, and most guests choose to visit with a local guide.
5. Santa Clarita Central Park
Valencia’s relatively laid-back pace is often a welcome change for Southern California visitors tired of Los Angeles’ notorious congestion and overall urban chaos.
Located a few kilometers northeast of town, Santa Clarita Central Park is an idyllic 125-acre site that is a convenient escape destination for those interested in being in touch with nature.
Much of the park is undeveloped, and it features a disc golf course, a designated dog area, and many trails open to runners, hikers, and mountain bikers.
It is located on Bouquet Creed Road just a few minutes from Valencia and has an impressive community garden.
6. Westfield Valencia City Center
For many travelers, retail therapy is a logical use of limited vacation time.
Southern California is home to some of the most luxurious shopping areas in the country, but there are more reasonably priced options for those on a budget.
Westfield Valencia’s city center does have its fair share of high-end shops and restaurants, but savvy shoppers don’t need to shell out big bucks.
In addition to clothing and food, retailers at the center sell everything from jewelry, appliances and toys to books, sporting goods and homewares.
Located in Valencia, the mall often hosts special events in the public areas, especially during festivals.
7. William S. Hart Museum
Although William S. Hart wasn’t as famous as other entertainment moguls of the silent era, he was one of the most acclaimed actors, directors and producers of his time.
The museum named after him, located about 2 kilometers southeast of Valencia, has one of Southern California’s most unique and eclectic collections of historically significant bits and pieces.
Many of the items on display relate to the nascent film industry of the early 1900s. There are also Native American artifacts and Western memorabilia, such as art and equestrian gear.
There are hiking trails and picnic areas on site for those looking to spend the day.
8. Santa Clarita Philharmonic
Despite their relatively small size, Valencia and Santa Clarita have an amazing array of all-around attractions.
The Santa Clarita Philharmonic is a community-based organization whose members include musicians ranging from professionals to students.
It is committed to providing residents of the region with high-quality musical and cultural opportunities that they may not otherwise have access to. For visiting traditional music lovers, this is a great place to spend a few hours in the evening.
It is less than one kilometer from Valencia. Staff also offer many outreach and teaching programs throughout the year.
9. Vazquez Rock
Located on the hills just minutes from Valencia, Vasquez Rocks is not only one of the most impressive natural attractions in the area, but has also been featured in several films and TV shows over the years.
The rock is located in a public area open to visitors all year round. Between late spring and fall, guided hikes led by professional park rangers are very popular with those looking to stretch their legs and breathe in the fresh desert air.
Don’t forget your camera or a fully charged phone because these rocks are simply stunning. Depending on the time of your visit, there are often unique wildlife and blooming desert plants around.
10. Gibbon Conservation Center
Traditional zoos tend to have a bad reputation these days, but unlike zoos of their kind, the Gibbon Conservation Center in Santa Clarita focuses primarily on research, breeding and conservation programs for the benefit of gibbons.
Gibbons are amazing primates native to Asia and Southeast Asia. They are known for their agility and loud calls that can be transmitted over long distances.
The center, located about 8 km northeast of Valencia, has been open since the mid-70s.
The staff offer regularly scheduled tours, but it’s a good idea to call them or check their website before going on a special tour.
11. Placerita Canyon Nature Center
The quaint and historic town of Newhall, just minutes south of Valencia, between Interstate 5 and California Route 14, is a favorite destination for travelers looking to experience the area’s past.
The Placerita Canyon Nature Center is nestled in an idyllic depression between the foothills. It has a babbling stream and large swathes of oak and willow trees that provide ample shade when the sun is at its hottest.
Most visitors choose to take advantage of the abundant walking trails, but for those who just want to relax, there are designated picnic areas and covered seating.
12. Christmas in Santa Clarita
During the holidays, when most of the country’s residents wear sweaters to try to distance themselves from the snow and ice, Californians typically wear shorts and Hawaiian shirts and enjoy the 70s and 80s temperatures.
In early December, residents of the Santa Clarita neighborhood start to get into the spirit, and they tend to take their Christmas decorations to the extreme.
In fact, the spectacle has become so popular that local businesses now offer self-guided tour maps for those who want to see the show in person.
Due to its proximity to Valencia, many tourists choose to take advantage of the warm weather by walking or cycling to see the decor.
13. Playboy Brewing
During the summer months, California’s scorching sun can drain visitors’ energy and drain their vital fluids.
Thankfully, there’s a great place to refill the aforementioned liquids; it’s called The Dudes’ Brewing.
Dude’s is a popular tap shop with more than two dozen beer varieties that come in a variety of colors, flavors, and alcohol levels to appeal to all tastes.
They also offer seasonal wines and strong ciders, as well as traditional American fare from light and healthy soups and salads to classics like pizza and burgers.
It’s especially fun on Sunday afternoons and Monday nights during the football season, just a few kilometers from Valencia.
14. Newhall Old Town
Less than 5 minutes east of Valencia Avenue, Newhall Old Town is one of the most authentic Old West towns in the area.
It hosts an annual cowboy festival that attracts would-be cowboys and history buffs from the area. It also features a star-studded Walk of Fame that pays homage to the luminaries of Western television, radio and film from decades ago.
For those who want to present themselves at their own pace, there is a free downloadable app that lets visitors know which attractions should not be missed and how to get to each.
The old town is popular with the happy hour crowd with its many restaurants, shops and cosy bars.
15. Santa Clarita Trail
The mountains and foothills around Valencia and Santa Clarita are estimated to have nearly 70 miles of nature trails.
Most trailheads are 5 to 10 km from Valencia. With so many options, there’s something for everyone – from the hardcore outdoorsman type to families with kids looking to spend a relaxing afternoon in nature.
The most popular trailheads include Iron Horse, Promenade and Lost Canyon. Each has its own parking area and basic amenities such as fountains and shaded seating.
Dogs are okay unless otherwise stated, but if they make a mess on the road, the owner must clean up behind them.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Valencia, CA, CA
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